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Graduation Day has arrived and students must pass their final exam in order to receive their certificate. It’s a busy morning for classes and after lunch break they will have their exam. First thing we do after eating our lunch is stop at the Peace and Love Supermarket to get gifts for translators. They each get a loaf of bread, a bag of salt, and a bag of sugar along with a couple of personal gifts from each of us.

Peace and Love Supermarket.

We made bags for the translators’ gifts.

David and I took a quick look at the port. Afterward we went through the marketplace to shop for gifts for our translators, then back to class.

The Shire River is lovely, however, I believe crossing the border here could be frowned upon. Many people do it everyday to shop and visit Mozambique.

It’s hard to believe that in a few hours Bible School will be over. We will distribute the certificates, hand out the additional Bibles, give gifts for the wives of the pastors, and take a class picture.

Two hours after the graduation party the annual conference will begin. Joey kicks off the conference with a powerful message from when Jesus walked on water. “Our God Reigns” is the theme and you will get a picture of the lovely banner we brought from Colorado. Saturday morning David preaches and then in the afternoon he teaches about 300 men, Joey and Ian will have from 300-400 children, and I will be speaking to 600 women. We brought 600 Burger King Crowns and 600 necklaces. Please pray for all of us as these are large numbers to minister to. If it goes as well as the prison visit, we will be more than pleased. God is good and always faithful!

After these sessions, the baptisms begin! Pastor says to expect over 200. Then each of us will tell the congregation how our lives changed after we accepted Christ and were baptized. That will end a busy Saturday. Sunday morning I will give a farewell talk to our friends in Malawi. After lunch we will pack up to be ready to go to Blantyre on Monday morning. I may not get opportunity to send any more updates until we get home. Thank you for your prayers and please continue to pray for our mission to be a sweet aroma, pleasing to God.

Students prepare for the final exam.

But first, we have dramas to perform. This is the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus.

The students added the stoning of Stephen, making the story even more compelling!

Having passed the exams and receiving certificates, it’s time to party!

Graduation picture.

The conference begins late because of the heat. We begin well after eight o’clock.

Conference begins with opening praise team singing.

The church is filling up.

It’s been a long day. We got back to the hotel around 9:30. Pastor says he will pick us up at 9:00 in the morning. All I know is that today confirmed the fact that we are supposed to be here. As we congratulated each student, some of them had tears in their eyes as they thanked us for their certificate. For some of these students it has been their first experience in a classroom. Thanks to all of the Malawi Support Team for making this happen. You have made dreams come true today. God is glorified and it is all about HIM!!

Such a busy day and tomorrow will be just as busy. Whew! But, all in all, we look forward to the busiest day of our journey tomorrow. So much is on the agenda. Again, David will begin by preaching on the theme of the conference, “Our God Reigns.” Then he will teach some 300 men, Ian and Joey will have 300-400 children, and I will be teaching 600 women. Afer that pastor tells us that we will baptize over 200 new believers. At the evening service each of us will tell how we have changed since we gave our lives to Jesus. Pray for everyone here. Many have traveled miles and across borders to join us. Until tomorrow …. Blessings!

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Outside our door at the hotel.

Yesterday Joey and Ian went with Pastor Chilemba to pick up Mama Chilemba at the hospital. They have great stories to tell, but you should know that if anything happens to any of us we will risk the trip back to Blantyre. Joey watched the nurse pull the IV out of Mama Chilemba’s arm as she was walking out of the hospital. No little cotton ball, no Band-Aid, just blood everywhere. So far I haven’t had the dubious pleasure of seeing inside the hospital because the outside was enough for me. They have three main wards. One ward is for women, one is for men, and one is maternity. The guys saw a new mom of triplets walking out with one baby and a woman following carrying one baby in front and one in back.

Here’s a picture journal of our day today.

Joey, Vicki, David and Ian ready to start another day at Bible School.

Students surprise me by singing Happy Birthday in English during the opening session.

Students and teacher hard at work.

Every day we enjoy the same delicious food. Chicken, rice, potatoes, veggies, and Mama C.’s tomato sauce!

Baby goats join me as I observe David’s class. If I look distracted, it’s because I’m contemplating tomorrow’s graduation and the conference to follow.

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“This is my Bible. I am who it says I am.” Students recite the daily Bible affirmation.

When planning to come to Nsanje we were to have breakfast and lunch at Pastor Chilemba’s home and then have MRI’s in the evening in our hotel rooms. After a few days we realized that we could actually get breakfast here at the hotel and revised our first plan. It is much more efficient for us to eat here at 7:00 and start classes at 9:00 at the church. Breakfast usually consists of boiled eggs, untoasted toast, rice or spaghetti, French fries, some kind of a sweet roll never before seen by any of us, maybe some rice porridge and instant coffee.

Classes start at 9:00, but Pastor C. picks us up anywhere between 8:50 and 9:30. It’s Africa time so we juggle what we must in order to get caught up by the end of the day. At noon Pastor Chilemba takes us to his home for lunch. Here we receive the very special lunch which is the same every day — chicken, rice, French fries, a tomato sauce, a cooked vegetable and bananas. Sometimes we get a boiled egg. Outside the pastor and his family eat maize and goat or dried fish. Chicken is considered a very special treat.

Last year I had to bring MRI’s for breakfast and for dinner so David and I brought way too many this year. I’m not sure who we will give them to. We’ve met a lot of nice people who work at the hotel and of course we have 141 pastors who might use them.

We eat and then go to the hotel for break until 2:00 when classes begin. Again, Pastor C. picks us up anytime between 1:45 and 2:15 and usually start the catch up game! But, everything here is ‘no problem’ and it’s Africa time.

Yesterday Pastor Mussa, one of our students, cut the back of his hand seriously. Joey and Ian treated it and wrapped it. Today it looked infected so we brought Mussa to the hotel and treated and rewrapped the wound. Pray for healing for Mussa. Also Pastor C. took Mama C. to the hospital. He said it was for them to check her cast, but then he says she will be in the hospital overnight. It’s difficult because of the language barrier. His English sometimes is confusing. Pray for Mama Chilemba.

Wednesday…..

Today we are all feeling well. I finally got some good sleep and so did David. I think all of us are beginning the countdown to heading home. We love the people here and we believe in what we are doing, but we miss home. It’s been more than a blessing to walk with God in this amazing place among His amazing people. Tomorrow is ‘hump’ day and after that everyday will fly by because there is so much on the agenda.

Tomorrow’s student lunch. Cute goats roam everywhere, but we notice fewer of them as the days go by.

Cooks filling plates with maize and goat! Some days they have boiled eggs.

Vicki teaching with Fanny Phiri translating.

Once again class is moved outside under the trees.

All quiet in the kitchen. Just doing a few dishes.

Getting the baptismal ready for Saturday.

So little time to share about all the miracles that happen every day but I must share this one. When we were in Blantyre (two weeks ago) David bought a huge wrench. I asked him why and he said he thought it might make a good gift. When we got here we started a raffle every final session to lift spirits. Yesterday David put the wrench in the raffle bag. When we got to the church they were trying to fill the baptismal and the spigot was broken. They were trying everything, but could not get the water to stop. Joey remembered the wrench in the raffle bag and they fixed the leak and began filling the baptismal. God had planned this blessing two weeks ago — when I thought David was nuts to buy a wrench for our teaching mission!

Mama Chilemba had surgery on her broken arm and is now home and doing well. Mussa’s hand is looking better thank you for your prayers. David and I borrowed Joey’s shower last night and felt clean for the first time since we arrived. I slept better than any other night. Thank you for your prayers!

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“On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men, but God, who tests our hearts” (I Thessalonians 2:4).

African breakfast! Pictured with us is Mary, the hotel owner’s daughter. 

On Monday classes resumed but I was good only for the first one. After that, I went back to the hotel because I’ve had a sinus infection and cold (just enough to make me miserable). I just need a decent nights’ sleep. Power failures make air conditioning disappear at times. David volunteered to take my last class and I spent the day in bed. No power, so no air conditioning, but at least I could rest. Everyone except Ian has had one thing or another. We’re all fine and feeling better now. The days have gotten hotter and we’re into the last week.

As you can see, breakfast is delightful. Mornings have been cool. The students often get involved in the class work. They share and ask questions. The advanced group is very united and outgoing. One hundred seven students make the first year class a challenge because it’s difficult to get them to participate. Hopefully God will reveal a way to get them more at ease.

The language barrier is so frustrating. I would love to know their stories. Joey and Ian have made some friends with locals. Tonight Ian and Joey are returning to the soccer field where they met players last week after class. When they first entered the soccer field, all the players ran up to meet them. Joey and Ian challenged the players to make a goal from the opposite goal for two thousand kwacha (a little less than $3). Much laughter and fun accompanied the efforts until one of them made it. Sorry, no pictures.

Joey is the only one with a shower that works. He has hot and cold water, too! He’s offered to share, but right now cold showers after a hot day are all right.

Ian teaching about Elisha. John Chilemba translating.

Men cooking maize for student lunches.

David teaching God Is Love class with Pastor Samuel translating.

The Parable of the Sower class is moved outside because it’s too hot in the smaller classroom.

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Group picture of the conference attendees with the new big church in the background.

David and I will be speaking at Impact Rock Church, 710 Austin Avenue, Erie, Colorado, at the 10:00 o’clock service on Sunday morning, October 7th. We will give a report on our mission to Malawi and share pictures and videos not seen before. We will also give you an update on the new church project. It’s beautiful and almost finished. Believers in Malawi are already enjoying woship services inside what they call the ‘new big church’. We would love for you to join us!

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World Bible Church praise and worship team.

It’s Sunday night and I’m ready to turn in, but thought I would try to get this out. First of all, thank you to everyone who responds to these updates. It’s good to hear from you even though I cannot answer. I’m sure we will talk when I get back.

Today started out with a great church service. As usual the music and dance was incredible! Then Ian preached a powerful message on the armor of God. After lunch at Pastor’s home, Ian and Joey went to inspect the nearby airstrip (dirt) and the port.

Later in the afternoon we went to visit the prisoners across the street from the church. There was singing and dancing and lots of laughing. I was asked to speak and I told them that Jesus loves them and asked how many loved Jesus. Many hands were raised, perhaps all of them. It made me very happy. I gave a short message which I hope inspired them from Philippians, chapter 4. More music, then we went to our hotel. The end of another incredible day!

All of us are looking forward to classes in the morning. God never fails to give us grace and strength for the day. I crave some down time, but on the other hand, I don’t want to miss anything.

Enjoy the pictures!

Children’s Choir

Church in session.

Ian preached about the armor of God.

Entering the prision facility.

Offenders entertain us with a show.

Offenders who believe in Jesus raise their hands.
Hallelujah!

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“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Sunrise on the road to the game reserve. Safari time!

Saturday began early (4:00 am) to be ready for Pastor Chilemba to pick us up at 5:00 in order to make the drive to the Majente African Reserve in the mountains for us to see the elephants. We got started just ten minutes or so late, we had hoped to get the first tour, but even though we arrived at eight o’clock, we had to wait until ten. Joey had spoken with people who had gone a few days before and they said that they took the late tour and saw nothing. We hung out at the lodge for the next two hours. The lodge is fantastic. It offered a pool, a restaurant with thatched roof, a museum, British toilets, etc.

A little quiet time waiting for safari guide.

Finally, Jimmy, our guide loaded us up into the safari Land Cruiser with graduated seating. I had to have a ladder to get into the front seat. Joey, Ian, Pastor Chilemba, John Chilemba and Philip Chilemba sat in the higher seats behind. With low expectations we scanned along the road a came upon a herd of Gazelle! They are beautiful creatures that walk single file. Over the next few miles we saw a lot of Gazelle.

We saw Nyala, a zebra and water buck. We passed some monkeys and saw some wild boars and a baboon. We were pretty happy because we didn’t think we would see much when our guide took us along the river to show us a bunch of Hippos sunning themselves, then we saw two huge crocodiles across the Shire River. Not far from the crocs was a HUGE elephant tearing down a tree. Even though he was across the wide river, he was HUGE. Farther down, there was a family of elephants, yet they were still across the river.

We went back inland and saw more wild boars and gazelle. Then it was the sight we had all been waiting for — face to face with an elephant!

Close encounter with an elephant. We saw five … four across the river.

Nyala

Gazelles walk single file.

On the safari!

Lunch at the lodge and long drive home filled out the day.

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